Ricky Rubio is anything but a good host. So much so, in fact, that he laid out the red carpet for the Lakers and gave them an Oscar performance in point guarding. Rubio was on fire scoring 26 of his 31 points in the first half alone while finishing the game with 31 points in a 117-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
While the Utah Jazz led for much of the game, it wasn’t Utah’s best defensive performance. They once again let a team get out to a big lead against them in the first quarter and spent much of the late first and 2nd quarter digging themselves out. While Utah can consider themselves lucky that they were able to come back using their hot shooting, that kind of performance is not going to fly against a playoff team like the Warriors, Trail Blazers, Spurs, or Rockets.
The Los Angeles Lakers shot 48.6% from the field and 50% from three led by University of Utah alum Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma was scorching going for 26 points in front of the almost home crowd. Every time he scored you could hear the “KUUUUUUUUUZZZZZZ” cheers. It’s like Jimmer all over again if Jimmer was actually an NBA caliber player. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope couldn’t miss tonight as he went off for 28 points. This point cannot be expressed enough, if this was any other team, this is a loss.
Utah was able to get the victory by their offensive rebounding (Utah had 14 to LA’s 7) and creating turnovers. Utah has a couple days to get locked back in on the defensive end. One reason this game probably was close was the bench. Utah’s bench the last couple games has been rejuvenated by the return of Dante Exum. Tonight they struggled, only providing 20 of Utah’s 117 points. Dante Exum had his first so-so game since returning and Royce O’Neale continues to struggle offensively big time.
Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors combined for 27 points, 24 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. One thing that has been a noticeable trend is Rudy Gobert’s hands. It appears like he’s dropping more pocket passes. I’m not sure if Jazz point guards are not putting the ball in the right spot for him or if it’s Gobert hands from two years ago. Rudy Gobert had 5 turnovers just to himself which made him responsible for almost a third of his team’s turnovers. Gobert continues to be a defensive force and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but there have been times in the last three games where we’ve seen Snyder take Gobert out to put Favors at the 5 for an offensive shot in the arm.
This was Utah’s 5th straight win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the last two years. In the last three years Utah is 8-1. Tonight was a needed win that puts Utah fifth in the Western Conference Playoff Race. As of writing this, San Antonio is holding a 5 point lead to the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles. If the Clippers can get a victory, that moves Utah into a tie with San Antonio for the 4th seed in the West. Big implications are on the line tonight.
Speaking of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Utah Jazz face off against them next on Thursday in Salt Lake City. Depending on tonight, the Clippers could still be fighting for their playoff lives.
The Utah Jazz broadcast could not get enough of Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell’s handshake. Can we not allow anything to stay organically awesome? We get that it was awesome. Just let it live on in gifs the way God intended.
Joe Ingles continues to lead the league in most open three pointers declined in the corner.
Ricky Rubio again flirted with a Triple Double WHILE SCORING 30 POINTS. He added 6 rebounds and 8 assists.
Donovan Mitchell has 26 25+ games on the season. That means he has surpassed Adrian Dantley’s rookie year total. He’s one game back of Darrell Griffith, two games back of Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan, and four games back of Carmelo Anthony. For those keeping score at home, he has more 25+ point games than LeBron James.